Putting the Space in Space Coast – The Economic and Tourism Impact of Launches

BREVARD, FL – Visitors have made the trip to Florida’s Space Coast to witness launches in person since the dawn of the space program. As Brevard County returns to the tradition of human space flight, it is sure to assist in the recovery efforts for COVID-19. Initially, Space Florida projected half a million visitors coming to view this historic launch. The Limitation of Tourism and Lodging Order expired May 4 allowing hotels to begin accepting reservations again, and beach parking has started to reopen just in time. 

Visitation for launches is a major contributor to the local economy through both the amount spent on a trip and the 5% Tourist Development Tax on hotel rooms and other short-term rentals, often referred to as the bed tax. The average party that stayed overnight spent about $1,065 and individuals spent about $350. Even day-trippers have an impact, spending on average about $144, based on a 2019 study conducted by Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism. 

About half of the people doing an overnight trip for a launch stayed in a hotel and about a third rented some kind of other accommodation such as a vacation rental, b&b, condo, campground, etc. While half of the overnight visitors stay in Cocoa Beach, 40% found lodging in Cape Canaveral, Titusville or Indian Harbour Beach/Indialantic. In fact, Titusville's bed tax collections have increased 40% from 2016 to 2019. 

Brevard County has been in the midst of a hotel building boom since 2017 with at least 8 new properties either proposed, planned, or in construction. This would add more than 860 rooms. The upcoming Courtyard by Marriott, in partnership with Delaware North, will be in Titusville 6.4 miles away from Kennedy Space Center. Taking advantage of being the closest hotel to the action, it will include a rooftop deck with a bar providing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a front-row seat to a rocket launch.

“We encourage visitors to come a day early for launches to avoid the hassle of traffic into the county and to book lodging early. This is especially important for milestone events like the return to human space flight and Mars2020,” says Peter Cranis, Executive Director of Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism. “This will allow you ample time to find your ideal viewing location without parking along roads or causeways. This is very unsafe and creates life-threatening situations.”